Bringing Colour to Ghost-Town Doel – Fiat 500 Road Trip


If you ever plan on visiting Doel, the ghost-town in Belgium, there’s not a lot of roads that lead there. We took the fastest road from Antwerp, which takes you through over-industrialized docks; something that is already a bit creepy. However, that is just the beginning, and it would become much worse than that. Follow us on our trip to Doel.

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The Fiat 500, especially in this nearly complete variety, is a great car to look at. The bright red, almost blood-like, goes great with everything. The glass sunroof fits perfectly to what the car represents: days and days of joy. However, joy may be a great feature, but it does not necessarily mean the car is perfect. Same goes for the “nearly complete” package. On numerous occasions, have I encountered bothersome little things, which I will – for the most part – neglect, since the car belongs to my (basically) mother-in-law.

At the time though, it was our only option for a car to go somewhere that day. Luckily for us, she had the day off, so we could borrow it for a few hours. When returning from our road trip, while passing Antwerp, we both decided that some day in the near future we would go see the ghost-town with our own eyes. It would have made zero sense to do it that day, so we figured we would come back. That day was Monday, so we set off with the intentions of seeing some bizarre stuff, taking tons of photos and have a good time. We succeeded in all three mentioned objectives.

Now, Doel is quite the odd town. If you have never heard of it, picture this: the government and a bunch of companies come in and claim the land that you live on, because they want to expand the port of Antwerp by God-knows how much. Not only that, they’re also planning on building a nuclear plant a kilometer from your house; ruining your view – and most-likely safety – in the process. Take note of the fact that this happened in the 60’s. Over the course of these years, government officials came up with several social plans and strategies to help the inhabitants. I am not aware of how good or bad their intentions were, or if they even cared one bit about the people of Doel, all I know currently is, that it has become a giant canvas for artists and attracts just tiny doses of people at once, who’ve come to take photos, or cycle along the dykes.

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To honor the village, that is neck-deep in decay, only to have its head lifted by the very few who stayed behind, or those who brighten the place up with their paint, I created this article. Because even though people are too quick to destroy what is barely in use anymore, we must remember that creating something always has the upper-hand, in contrast to tearing things down. We have to fight for its longevity. This article is meant to display what remains of the town that once housed hundreds of families, and now mainly attracts people for its vacancy.

Although initially it was not intended to be like this, by taking the Fiat 500 to Doel, we contributed to the art and colours that you’ll come across when going there. Overcast reigned that day, so it definitely was a great decision and it resulted in some great photos. However, we first scanned the place for our own pleasure, looking for spots to maybe even trespass. We ended up doing no such thing, since most houses looked wildly unwelcoming. This was due to their state, as well as the reputation it had for squatters and sketchy folks in general.

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What stood out to me most, was that the inhabitants had lived in the shadows of these towers for more than 30, some even 40 years. Imagine what it must be like to live that close to something that can have the greatest of impacts. Furthermore, most houses that still resided people were in the main street of Doel. This might not come as a surprise to you as a reader, or past, or future visitor, but it does mean that over ninety percent (I’m guestimating) of the town is completely abandoned. This in turn creates an overall creepy atmosphere that does not seem to fade until you leave.

At some point we decided it was enough. Both the fact that we had to return home so Elke would be in time for her job, as well as the creeping sensation of anxiety became too much for us to stay a minute longer. We walked back to the car to get the last shots we wanted and to have one final peek at the view. To finish our short visit, we drove to the top of the dyke to get a shot of the complete environment, complete with cooling towers and channel. This is the result.

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To be honest, we both were kind of relieved when we took our last photo and could just get the hell out of there. On the way back, we had to drive across the odd detour again, which resulted in us not really having the time or brains to fully process what we just experienced. I’m not trying to be overly dramatic here, it just really impressed me to walk through a village that had once been so much more alive. Though after all, I’m glad I got to sit in the Fiat 500 again. The joyful, innocent car that it is, really contrasted with what we saw in those few hours.

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Have a good one,

Harry

@TailPipeTales

All photos used in this post are my own.


About Harry

As a small child, he already knew one thing for sure: his life would in some way revolve around cars. Several years later, he pursues his goal of earning a living as a motoring journalist. Also has a deep adoration for sushi and hip-hop music.

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